I planned a nap today. And I don’t mean that I planned to take one today, I mean I planned one for Monday, October 22. That’s a full 12 days from the day I’m writing this. This is what life is like, these days.
Is everyone else always this busy? I have to imagine yes. Actually, I know it’s a yes for many others in my circle, so it’s not an isolated issue.
When my dad was over for Thanksgiving last weekend, we discussed when would be a good time for my son to go visit. After everyone’s schedules had been tabled, it was settled that a sleepover could happen “definitely sometime before Christmas.” He lives in River Bourgeois, not Istanbul; it’s 20 minutes from my house, and it will still be weeks before we have a weekend free, maybe even longer.
Since the end of summer, I’ve been angling to get an audience with my son to go through all his fall and winter clothes. But now that the school year is in full swing, with homework and extracurricular activities whittling away at afternoons and evenings, putting aside an hour to do this is harder than you might think. His dresser drawers are still full to capacity and I haven’t weeded out a single thing yet.
I have a group chat on Facebook with a few work friends, two of whom have moved on to other jobs and one of whom works several different jobs. We have been trying to plan a night out for supper, but we just can’t work it out. Someone’s always working, or away, or at their kid’s sporting event (I’ll let you guess which one is me), and despite talking about it nearly every week, we still haven’t been able to get it together.
It’s been two years.
This is not, however, about my lack of a social life. It’s really about the irrational busy-ness of today’s families and why parents are so exhausted all the time. Parenting has always been demanding and depleting, yes, but the day-to-day of child-rearing requires the endurance of a marathoner.
On any given day, weekday or weekend, there are: games and/or practices, doctor or dentist appointments, birthday socials, tests to study for, assignments to complete, provincial capitals to memorize, equations to learn, projects due, and plain ol’ homework.
(Without overselling it, I feel like I have to elaborate on the “games and/or practices” part, for those who aren’t aware of how much sports plays a role in the life of parents. Baseball – two team’s worth – just ended a few weeks ago, so that’s always a huge, four-month commitment. As of now, we have basketball clinics, soccer games and practices with play-offs coming up, and hockey starts this week with practices one day during the week and two games each weekend, one home and one away. He decided to forego track and cross country this year because there simply isn’t enough time.)
And this is the life of two parents with one child to ferry around. There are many, many people with multiple children, all with sports and activities to contend with, and sometimes with only one parent to do it. I have friends who don’t see each other the entire summer, because one parent has a kid in Sydney for soccer while the other has a kid in Halifax for baseball, and the grandparents are on duty watching the third sibling at a dance recital at home. It’s a common situation, to have a family going in all different directions.
Add these kid activities to adults’ jobs and traveling for work, housekeeping responsibilities and grocery shopping and it’s no wonder we look around and see portraits of bug-eyed, stressed-out parents. I remember hiding in the bathroom to get a minute away from my children. These days I run to the grocery store to take a breath.
I’m nearing the final act as far as parenting young children is concerned. There are no more bowls of spilled cereal and diaper changes taking up my day, and no more going to playtime. Those activities have all been replaced with others, to be sure, but the pace has changed. It’s a calmer busy, a less chaotic busy, but 10 times more expensive.
Wanting everything for their kids, parents pinball between jobs, school demands and extracurricular schedules. Will it actually end up doing us any favours in the long run? I sure hope so.